While SEO may be the talk of the marketing world, it isn’t as widespread as you may think. Even today, only 30% of businesses have SEO strategies at all, which is great news for you! It means there’s less competition standing in your way.
One of the most important parts of SEO is to have a great content marketing strategy. Well, there’s nothing better than cluster content with a great pillar page. Let’s talk about how to use a pillar page effectively in your search engine strategy!
What Is a Pillar Page?
The pillar page, also referred to as a “skyscraper”, is part of a common SEO content marketing strategy known as a content cluster or topic cluster that’s been used by many famous content marketing agencies. In some cases, this is also known as the “skyscraper strategy”. For the sake of this article, we’re going to call it the content cluster strategy.
Essentially, the pillar page is the largest and most comprehensive piece on a given topic, and it will have several smaller clusters of content linking to it. That means if you are delivering SEO for lawyers, you may have a target search term of “Criminal Defence Lawyers” that are linked to by various articles that cover the nuances of the different facets of criminal law. Another example may include the one outlined below.
If you run an eCommerce store and you sell the product XYZ Generic, you’re going to want to rank ahead of your competitors on search engines like Google. You then create a pillar page with the primary keyword being “XYZ Generic”, and you offer plenty of in-depth, valuable content on the product.
Now, this piece is going to be the longest and most comprehensive piece, so it will likely have the highest word count. However, that doesn’t mean there is room for “fluff” or filler content. Every word needs to be dedicated to valuable content that serves a purpose to the user.
How the Content Cluster Strategy Works
To be more specific with our example, let’s say the XYZ Generic is a solar generator. In that case, you can have a long-form pillar page covering every topic, including:
- Battery life
- Battery output
- How long does the battery last (lifecycles)
- Input and charging options
- Charging times for various options
- Solar panel performance
- What the system can charge and for how long
- Bundle deals and warranties
Of course, you want to touch on as many topics as you can and offer valuable information, but it would take tens of thousands of words to cover everything. That’s where cluster content comes in. You could then start producing more short-form content that goes more in-depth on each topic.
Let’s say that your pillar piece is 3,000 words, and each section listed above has between 200 and 500 words. In that case, you could create smaller clusters of 500 to 1,200 words on each topic. To pick one example, you could then do a piece on how long a solar generator can power various medical devices, and go in-depth into each device, keeping the primary keyword “XYZ Generic”.
How Does This Strategy Affect SEO?
Okay, so why does a pillar page and cluster content affect SEO? Won’t any content marketing strategy help me rank? Well, yes.
Any quality content marketing campaign could help you build an SEO strategy over time. However, there are some serious benefits to offering a pillar page and cluster strategy that you can’t get anywhere else.
Pillar pages are a great way to stand out from the competition and get ahead. There are many strategies to do this, including creating different types of content (video, audio, etc.), but you will still receive the most clicks on written content. It’s the easiest to index, and users are often looking for quick information.
When Google sees that you can offer all of the information they could need, you’ll likely do a lot better in the SERPs.
Authority is an important ranking factor for any topic in SEO. To build authority, Google relies on your volume and consistency on a given topic, and it will later rely on off-page factors as well. For now, let’s focus on your on-page authority.
If you’re writing about that XYZ Generic product, you’re trying to establish a niche authority on that topic. Google will recognize that this is one very niche topic with relatively low competition, and your website has some of the most comprehensive information on that given topic. Over time, this will help you build niche authority and keep you ahead of the competition in the long run.
This is the same reason why the Alzheimer’s Association ranks ahead of the NIH and CDC when you search for “Alzheimer’s”. The CDC and NIH are established authorities on thousands of different diseases and conditions, but in terms of niche authority, neither stand a chance.
User Retention and Engagement
User experience (UX) goes hand-in-hand with SEO in nearly every way. If Google were constantly offering sites with poor UX, it would reflect negatively on their service. That’s why user retention, engagement, and so many UX factors play a role in your site’s SEO value.
Google uses over 200 ranking factors on your website to determine your positioning in the SERPs. Nearly all of these have to do with UX in one way or another. By offering an interlinked cluster of content that covers a topic from every angle, users will be far more likely to continue clicking on your internal links to learn more, as you already know they are interested in the topic as a whole.
Building SEO Traffic With Pillar Page
Now that you know the role and importance of a pillar page in your SEO strategy, it’s time to talk about implementation. Building any content marketing strategy won’t magically happen overnight. However, if you plan for long-term consistency, you’ll see long-term, sustainable results.
Here’s how to get started with designing and implementing a pillar page and cluster content strategy!
Design a Great Pillar Page
Before building your pillar page, start with a clear idea in mind. There are a few steps to doing this successfully, but most importantly, you need to lay the foundation with some keyword research. This will help you rank for a wider range of keywords, determine subheader topics, and keep up with your competitors.
First, we recommend searching the keyword in your favorite online keyword research tool. Once you have a few secondary keywords in mind, search for those as well to find other related keywords. These are usually free for up to ten searches a day, so use them sparingly or use other tools as needed.
Ideally, you want to find as many keywords as possible with decent search volume and low competition. Once you have the list, you can compare keywords in Google Trends to see relative search volume. However, diversity is key.
From there, look through your competitors’ similar pieces by searching for these keywords on Google. You may find similar pillar pages where you can draw ideas. Also, feel free to add their URL to the keyword research tools to ensure you aren’t missing any.
Once you have everything, write a strong outline for your pillar piece before creating the content. You need to have a clear vision of this piece and how users will navigate through it. The more clear and concise information in the form of tables or infographics, the better!
Create Content and Edit Diligently
When researching for the topic, fact-check whenever you’re unsure about something. You want to make this piece as valuable and credible as possible.
As you write, always have something to say and consider how your users will think of this content. Remember, you’re creating content for users, not search engines.
Having a high word count will help your SEO value, but only if those words count. When proofreading, it’s important to eliminate fluff or filler content. As you review the content, ask yourself if each line serves a purpose and, if not, eliminate it.
Keep in mind that adding a quick joke or interesting side note in your article may help with user engagement, so that does serve a purpose. The purpose doesn’t have to be for information, it just needs to have a reason.
If you don’t have the in-house experience to design such a comprehensive piece, then you could always hire experienced SEO content writing services. Unlike paid ads, you’ll only have to pay for this once. Once it’s on your site, you can continue earning traffic from it indefinitely!
Optimize the Page
Before posting your pillar page, go through your images and links on your CMS platform and optimize each of them for search engines. Every link should have a title and every image should have an alt attribute. Search engines rely heavily on context for these features, so be as detailed and accurate as possible.
Also, your page should have a clear hierarchy. There should be a title tag and H1 to start, but everything from there should follow a clear hierarchical structure with H2, H3, and H4 tags.
Next, don’t forget to optimize your metadata. Keep your title as clear and concise as possible, and try to keep your meta description under 160 characters to work for mobile devices.
Finally, remember who you’re creating content for. Are there any ways in which you can optimize your pillar page for users and not just search engines? The greater the engagement, the better for retention, conversions, and long-term SEO value.
For example, try breaking up your paragraphs into smaller chunks, reducing wordy sentences, or replacing written content with tables or visual images for more concision. After that, consider adding a table of contents for users to easily find the information they want. Considering this is such a long-form piece, this could help lower bounce rates and increase engagement.
Outline Your Cluster Content
Once your pillar page is all set, you aren’t quite done. To carry out this strategy successfully, we recommend outlining and diversifying your cluster content for long-term SEO value. Try to dive into each topic, keep your primary keywords consistent, and remember to link back to your pillar page in each new post.
By outlining this content ahead of time, you can create a clear vision without too much repetition or duplicate content, which may hurt your SEO efforts. Try to set deadlines for this content and upload dates to make for a consistent strategy. Consistency is key in SEO!
Backlinks are links from other sites to yours, and they play an important role in SEO. If you want your pillar piece to get ahead and stay ahead of your competition, building backlinks should be a part of your strategy.
Fortunately, there is no type of content that serves as better “link bait” than a pillar page. By giving other websites such comprehensive information, they’ll be far more likely to link to your page. The more valuable and concise the information, the better.
From there, you can reach out to other blogs and ask them to link to your content. The best way to find blogs likely to link to your content is to examine your competitors’ backlinks, create a better piece of content, and ask those domains to link to your content instead. In many cases, they’ll be happy to link to the more comprehensive piece.
If you don’t know how important backlinks are to SEO, they serve as Google’s primary measure of domain authority. Each link acts as a vote in your favor, and links from websites with higher domain authority and industry relevance are the most valuable to your strategy.
Build Your Strategy Today
Now that you know the significance of a pillar page and cluster content, use these tips to your advantage and start ranking today! Like any SEO strategy, it will take time to come to fruition, but once you’re there, the rewards can last indefinitely with minimal upkeep.
Start today for the quickest results and stay up to date with our latest digital marketing news for more help with your strategy!